About 2,200 nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center announced plans Thursday for a one-day strike later this month after hospital management issued a staffing proposal they claim “puts patient care in jeopardy.”
The nurses gave hospital officials a 10-day notice for the Nov. 26 strike in the wake of a proposal earlier this month that would eliminate support nurses “who provide critical and expert level care to patients,” according to a statement from the nurses union.
The 10-day notice, which is legally required, gives the nurses time to make certain preparations, like postponing elective procedures. Should the nurses move forward with the walkout, it would mark their second strike in just over two months.
Dr. Kenneth Polonsky, dean and executive vice president of medical affairs for the University of Chicago, and Sharon O’Keefe, president of the hospital, penned a joint letter Thursday to the school community criticizing the decision.
“We are extremely disappointed by the Union’s decision to strike, as we did not want another walkout and have been working earnestly at the negotiating table to reach agreement,” according to Polonsky and O’Keefe, who said the union authorized the strike on Monday.
“Today, the Union rejected all of the compromises that UCMC had offered on major issues, and gave us a proposal reinforcing its inflexible demands. The Union did not wait for UCMC’s response, and served us with a pre-prepared written strike notice along with its demands,” the letter states.
Polonsky and O’Keefe noted that there are two bargaining sessions scheduled before Nov. 26 and another that day. While the nurses plan to stay at the bargaining table in the meantime, the union warned members will proceed with the strike “if no significant progress is made.”